Building the Future of Sustainable Cleaning

Since 2017, Novozymes and HelloScience and its Community of Stakeholders have been exploring new approaches and models to collaborate and innovate. The COVID-19 pandemic catalyzed new opportunities to build on this work, including helping to reshape the way we think about cleaning.

What began as a series of dialogues built around our Future of Clean Livelab in 2020 have now grown into an exciting new initiative between Novozymes, Gladsaxe Kommune (Municipality), the startup Aks2Tal and a group of five major corporations in the Kommune. In early May they’ll launch a 6-week pilot project to test a new microbial cleaning solution which could pave the way toward new, innovative forms of cleaning – as well as the way cleaning agents and ingredients are produced in the future. You can read the full details about the pilot in the press release Professional cleaning companies collaborate to evaluate the benefit of probiotics in green cleaning, in response to COVID-19.

The COVID-19 crisis has motivated collaboration among rival cleaning companies to explore the effect of Novozymes’ new probiotic cleaning product in trials hosted by five companies across Gladsaxe Municipality, Denmark.

Read full press release here

Alfred Birkegaard from the HelloScience Team and sat down with Gladsaxe Kommune’s Business Innovation Manager Freja Ludvigsen to discuss the pilot and how it might play a role in ushering in new forms of open innovation and collaboration in the district and beyond.

Gladsaxe Kommune has built a robust business community, as home to 3600 businesses of all sizes – from corporates, like Novozymes, to startups. In the wake of the pandemic, Freja contemplated how the Kommune might support businesses in building back better.

“I got this idea that the service industry and the hygiene and cleaning industry would somehow be essential for us to build back better; that we should focus on some kind of innovation that would ensure that we could come back to normal, in a sustainable way.”

In collaboration with Alfred and the HelloScience team, Freja worked to connect a small group of companies and kickstart a dialogue around creating an open innovation process that could then explore new approaches to sustainable cleaning.

“With Covid-19, cleaning became about more than just health and safety – also the freedom to come back to work, the freedom to be together. And what we could see was the opportunity to take this open innovation approach and then ask an open question – ‘what is the future of cleaning?’

That question led to a series of incredibly productive meetings between the Kommune and the companies, which in turn gave rise to the idea of conducting a pilot to test new microbial cleaning solutions. Freja continued; “There is an increasing sense of responsibility amongst companies to take care of the environment and the people in the environment as well – and this sense of responsibility was greatly accelerated by COVID-19. So when companies focus on that responsibility, instead of focusing solely on the return of investment in the economic bottom line, then that is in itself a game changer. With that sense of responsibility driving them, they can more easily collaborate around a broader sustainability agenda.”

Alfred added his perspectives and insights:

“When we focus on ‘grand challenges’ – such as the future of cleaning – all stakeholders involved are stepping into the unknown, and it’s really not business as usual. You have to open up mindsets and think about how you can actually put these pieces together. So it’s kind of a perfect opportunity and landscape for innovation, but the tricky thing is how to facilitate and make that collaboration happen.”

Freja shared her experiences around the question of facilitation:

“I realized that my biggest contribution in this process was my approach to facilitating with a lot of trust, with a lot of empathy, with a lot of diversity and openness about our different roles in this ecosystem, our responsibility to each other in this ecosystem – one where we can strive for the same aspiration and goals, and passion to succeed.”

As Gladsaxe Kommune, Novozymes and the other collaborators involved prepare to begin their pilot on May 3, the HelloScience team wishes them well with their efforts.

We’ll be back next month with an update on the pilot. Stay tuned!

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